In today’s competitive digital market, customers expect consistency and quality across every touchpoint with a brand. Multi-brand organizations that manage a diverse portfolio of brands are no exception. In fact, they are faced with the added challenge of delivering a unique experience for each of their brands, while operating efficiently at the portfolio level.
In order to build and retain strong brand advocates, multi-brand organizations need to align to a unified martech stack to manage the kaleidoscope of operational pieces that contribute to the customer experience.
Read on for our recommended core criteria to guide your customer data platform (CDP) evaluation as a multi-brand organization. We’ll touch on three pillars: scale, governance and partnership, and share firsthand strategies from Atlassian, Hearst, Condé Nast and more.
If Your Multi-Brand Strategy Can’t Scale, Don’t Waste Your Time
We all know data is a driving force for organizational decision-making, but too much may present a unique set of challenges. For multi-brand organizations in particular, juggling data across a portfolio of products means more profiles, attributes, audiences, channels and an even more complex web of customer journeys – all fragmented across multiple teams and systems.
The increased complexity of these additional silos is one thing, but the massive scale required to maintain and evolve these cross-brand processes should be top of mind when it comes to finding the right tool. Scalability can single-handedly make or break the long-term value of a CDP.
Take Atlassian, for example. The complexity of its multi-product offering, numerous levels of B2B and B2C entities and massive datasets resulted in consistent process inefficiencies that restricted the ability to scale omnichannel journey orchestration and ultimately hindered growth.
“We’re an enterprise organization with billions of rows of data. We can get pretty layered when it comes to the complexity of the data we have [which is why] we needed the ability to really harness the power of that data and make it easily usable for business users,” said Caleb Trecek, Senior Marketing Operations Technology Manager at Atlassian.
“From a scalability perspective, we can bring as much or as little data as we want into ActionIQ and the platform scales to the data we bring in.”Caleb Trecek, Senior Marketing Operations Technology Manager at Atlassian
“Whether we have a million rows of data that we’re running an audience on or several billion rows, the system scales to what we need it to,” Trecek said. “And that was a really important thing for us that we’d had pitfalls with when working with prior vendors where the systems couldn’t scale to the complexity of the data or the amount of data that we were feeding into the platform.”
With operations in 40 countries and numerous brands and products, leading media company Hearst also has scalability at the top of mind when it comes to recruiting the right tooling to power its customer experience strategy to drive conversions.
“We had all these disparate data sources, and it was challenging to grow, scale and support our products based on the best CX possible. ActionIQ has been really important for us to help aggregate, build and scale our first-party data across our 25+ brands in the most agile way possible.”Christina Dalton, Vice President of Conversion & Acquisition at Hearst
Even with a vast vault of customer information at your disposal, unlocking deeper insights from that data to create meaningful, connected customer journeys as a multi-brand enterprise is a whole other can of worms.
This is where the true bread and butter of a scalable CDP comes into play – enabling rich segmentation and personalized, timely orchestration across channels and customer journey stages. While this is a great starting point, it’s hardly the end of the road.
Choose a Solution That Enables Cross-team, Multi-brand Collaboration With Robust Governance
Getting the keys to the kingdom is only part of the equation. To enable the full spectrum of users to unlock the full potential of the data – while maintaining order and preventing cross-brand interference – they need the proper roadmaps (i.e., don’t open the floodgates).
“We’re using teams pretty effectively within ActionIQ to control and regulate the amount of data they see, what kind of data they can see and what they can activate. And when we roll it out to other groups we create playgrounds that let them get their feet wet and slowly expand to new responsibilities,” said Sravan Gupta, Senior Manager of GTM Systems at Atlassian.
This can include creating data dictionaries, defining data ownership, establishing data quality metrics, and enforcing data security measures. By doing so, companies can ensure that the data used to make decisions and inform strategies is reliable, accurate, and consistent across all their brands, resulting in more effective decision-making, stronger brand performance, and ultimately, business success.
To do this you need the ability to maintain multiple instances (plus a shared instance if teams need access to all data).
Data copies spread across every application makes it extremely challenging for IT teams to keep track of and govern the data appropriately — and this only gets harder as the number of applications in the CX stack continues to grow.
Condé Nast, another example, houses a portfolio of brands including The New Yorker, Wired, Vanity Fair, Bon Appétit and many more – all attracting hundreds of millions of consumers online and in print every year. With more subscribers comes a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to engaging and retaining them across their journeys – made even more difficult without precise and governed access to customer data.
“[Our CDP implementation] was a big change for our organization,” said Liz Switzer, Associate Director of CRM & Engagement at Conde Nast. “We were just running for the most part mass promotional campaigns and nothing targeting a specific segment”
After putting a roadmap in place and following change management best practices, Condé Nast set about tackling its most-pressing business challenges.
“ActionIQ gives us as marketers a lot more ability to be more hands-on with both the audiences and the data and just have a better level of awareness of what data is available to us, but also have more capabilities to be able to play around with the audiences ourselves,” Switzer said.
“Organizational structure is so pivotal in terms of being able to support this kind of agility and workflow [at Hearst],” according to Dalton. “If you have people operating in silos, then your marketing is going to remain very siloed, so I think this is the crux that brings it all together.”
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Vendor Partnership
With the added complexity of multiple CDP instances, numerous departments with differing access roles and brand-specific attributes and experiences that must remain separate, air coverage is critical.
This starts with the CDP implementation – having the oversight of technical experts who:
- Know the right questions to ask when it matters most
- Understand where gaps can hide and be thorough yet efficient
- Can work through organization-specific nuances to make sure you’re set up for success
“ActionIQ gets centralizing data,” said Roger Worak, Vice President of Customer Engagement & Insights at JCPenney. “In the environment that we had, centralizing all our data quickly was critical. The ActionIQ team understood that data was #1 and it was really, really quick.”
Partnering with a vendor that can offer a breadth of built-in support – global support structure, regional teams that can align to necessary time zones, technical resources and functions dedicated to supporting adoption across departments and brands – will offer significant return in the long run.
“When you’re evaluating CDPs, don’t look for a vendor, look for a partner,” Jason Langsner, Product Management Lead at The Washington Post advises. “The individual ActionIQ team that supports us – the engagement managers, the customer success managers, the engineering team – they are extensions of my team.”
As a result of this partnership, less than one year in, The Washington Post already had 120 CDP users activated across marketing, advertising, product, engineering and newsroom departments – plus individual teams within each of those departments.
“I can support the work of my stakeholders by partnering with the ActionIQ team to make sure we’re not only delivering in a timely manner, but that we’re prioritizing the insights that our stakeholders need every day,” Langsner continued.
Multi-Brand Enterprises Can Enable Sophisticated, Seamless Experiences with a CDP
Multi-brand enterprises face an additional layer of complexity that sits above the core challenges of traditional enterprises – and as a result, are prone to an overly diverse (and often redundant) martech stacks.
This complexity is precisely what makes these organizations the perfect candidates for a customer data platform – enabling sophisticated customer experience optimization at the portfolio level while allowing each brand to deliver on the unique and distinctive experiences their customers have come to expect.
At the end of the day, a CDP is a living tool and has to evolve with the broader organization. In order to maximize return on investment, ongoing evaluation and optimization is critical to ensure that it continues to meet changing needs and provide opportunities for growth.
Reach out to our team to see how you can harness complex, multi-brand data into amazing customer experiences.